Cincinnati Reds: Derek Dietrich should be playing every day

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 07: Derek Dietrich #22 of the Cincinnati Reds rounds the bases after hitting a two run home run in the second inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on April 7, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 07: Derek Dietrich #22 of the Cincinnati Reds rounds the bases after hitting a two run home run in the second inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on April 7, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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Following his two home run performance on Sunday in Pittsburgh it’s obvious Derek Dietrich needs at-bats on a daily basis for the Cincinnati Reds.

Through the first 8 games of the 2019 season, there is one player leading the Cincinnati Reds in batting average, home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage, and OPS.  That player is Derek Dietrich and Reds manager David Bell needs to find a way to get his bat in the lineup every day.  Fortunately for him, Dietrich provides ample opportunities with his versatility.

Entering his seventh major league season, Dietrich has appeared in more than 60 games at first, second and third base as well as left field.  Obviously his glove can play at many different positions. Considering the number of players struggling offensively, it shouldn’t be a challenge finding a position for him in the starting lineup.

Last season, the left-handed hitting Dietrich started 97 games in left field for the Miami Marlins.  After Sunday’s game, Reds left fielders are 2-for-35 at the plate without an extra base hit or an RBI. Matt Kemp and Jesse Winker have been the starters through the first 9 games and needless to say they have been miserable.

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David Bell has displayed a willingness to employ his bench to begin the season without a true platoon situation at any position. However, he has failed to use Dietrich at all in left field.  This is a glaring opportunity that has been missed over the first week and a half of the season. If Bell is willing to start Jesse Winker in center field, then there’s no excuse not to use Dietrich in left.

Another way to take advantage of Dietrich’s skill set is by making him the every day second baseman.  After Scooter Gennett was lost for the first 8-12 weeks of the season to a groin injury, the Cincinnati Reds made the curious decision of moving Jose Peraza, who played shortstop last season, to second base and inserted  Jose Iglesias at short.

While Iglesias provides Gold Glove caliber defense, his offense fails to produce any where close to the electricity that Dietrich’s bat provides.  If Bell is looking for a traditional platoon situation, second base is his best opportunity.

Over the course of his career the 29-year-old Dietrich has slashed .258/.343/.433 with 50 homers against right-handed pitching.  Where Dietrich struggles is against southpaws.  Lefties have held him to a slash line of .232/.299/.372 and 10 long balls throughout his career.

Jose Iglesias on the other hand thrives against left-handed hurlers.  The former shortstop for the Detroit Tigers has compiled an impressive slash line of .289/.341/.423 when facing left-handed pitching. The numbers would dictate a double play combination of Peraza at short and Dietrich at second against righties with Peraza moving to second and Iglesias at short versus left-handers.

The solution facing the Reds is maximizing what each player does best. For Derek Dietrich that’s hitting and for Jose Igelsias it’s defense.  As a result of the lack of left-handed starters in the NL Central Dietrich’s bat could be in the lineup on an almost daily basis. Bell can still use Iglesias as a late inning defensive replacement with Peraza sliding over to second.

Dietrich also brings an attitude and some swagger to ball club in desperate need of it. That was made apparent during Sunday’s game against Pirates’ starter Chris Archer. The Bucs’ right-hander took exception to Dietrich’s extended admiration of his blast into the Allegheny River.

Couple that with Dietrich’s fist-pumping trip around the bases on Opening Day following a pinch hit three-run homer and you have a guy who plays with an attitude. This is a trait the club has been sorely lacking for years.

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With the disastrous 2018 start still fresh in everyone’s mind, it’s important that the Cincinnati Reds right the ship immediately. David Bell has much better weapons to deploy than the last year’s edition, however, they must be used properly for maximum effectiveness. The first step is writing Derek Dietrich’s name on the lineup card every day.